What I’ve been playing

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds

I’ve finally gotten to play a few rounds of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, and have had a pretty good time with it. My strategy mostly revolves around finding a house early on and hiding in a corner somewhere, which might not sound exciting, but it certainly provides a tense experience. One game I was huddled behind a set of stairs as the circle got smaller and smaller, and finally I heard footsteps get closer and closer. Then a door opened. More footsteps. The intruder walked up the stairs right over me, and I debated whether to stand my ground or try to sneak up behind them. Luckily the bombs starting falling all around us and I used the cover of the explosions to scurry up the stairs unnoticed. There he was, staring out the window as I pulled out my pistol and fired a few shots into his back. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to kill him and he was better armed than me. He spun around and pointed his rifle at me as I quickly retreated back down the stairs and stupidly ran back underneath them again. I was backed into a corner, but I didn’t hear any footsteps. I figured he had to be at the top of the stairs looking down, using leverage to his advantage.

I hid there practically holding my breath for a few minutes, but then the circle moved away from us and I knew I’d have to move. I watched the timer tick down figuring maybe I could wait him out and if he left first I could get the jump on him. Finally with 30 seconds left until the blue circle of death would start to creep toward us, he popped off a few smoke grenades, engulfing the house in a dense fog. I decided to try to use the cover to my advantage and quietly sneak outside. I made it out the door! But my victory was short lived, as I was quickly shot in the back and killed.

Needless to say, I’ve been having a blast with Battlegrounds, even though the best I’ve ever finished is 16th place. There’s just something immensely satisfying about knowing you’re well hidden as someone runs right past you allowing you to get the jump on them. Unfortunately, it seems every time I find myself in an advantageous position, someone with more patience has been lurking just behind and takes me out after I spring on an opportunity.

Prey

I hadn’t heard much about Prey leading up to its release. I didn’t even know what type of game it was. I’m not sure whether that’s a symptom of a lack of pre-release coverage (I get 90% of my gaming news from Giant Bomb) or whether I just passively ignored any coverage out of lack of interest. I had never played the original Prey, nor have I played System Shock, which I think further contributed to my misunderstanding of the game. I ended up watching a Twitch stream on Thursday night and the game looked incredibly pleasing visually. I enjoyed watching the player explore the space station, and I figured it would be a shooter with a cool environment. I didn’t stick around long enough to see any encounters before I bought it on Steam.

Once I finally launched the game I was quite excited. It looked great, though I had to tone the settings down to a sort of medium-high mix on my GTX 1060 and AMD FX8320 (oc’ed to 4.0Ghz) to get a better framerate. Once I encountered my first mimic it scared the crap out of me. I had no clue what I was getting into, which probably worked to the games advantage, because from that point on I was absolutely on edge. I’m not huge into horror games, and I especially dislike jump scares, so after about an hour or so I had to turn the game off.

I’d like to play more, but I’m not sure how much I can actually handle.

DOTA 2

For some reason after watching Brad Shoemaker purchase the International 2017 Battle Pass on a Giant Bomb stream (Unprofessional Fridays) I decided to launch the game and do the same for myself. I haven’t played DOTA since last year’s International, and even then I found the game incredibly difficult to get the hang of, and I’ve played poorly in every match I’ve played. Last weekend I played a few matches and my teams actually won 2 out of the 3 matches I played. Unfortunately, I didn’t contribute much at all (maybe other than being a distraction), as I didn’t land a single kill all weekend. Still, I find myself wanting to play more. I’ll probably try to play a few bot matches until I can start landing kills before I jump into matchmaking again, however.

Modern Warfare Remastered

After playing some Black Ops II via backwards compatibility I found myself wanting more traditional Call of Duty, so I ordered the Infinite Warfare Legacy Edition on Amazon for $55. It was a nostalgic trip to get back into Modern Warfare, even though I’ve gotten absolutely destroyed in every match that I’ve played. I can’t seem to get aiming down with the analog stick, and I half wish I had bought it for PC instead (though I’m sure I’d still get destroyed).

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Games I still need to play

I’d like to finish up Telltale’s Batman, and after seeing Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 I picked up that Telltale game as well. I’m not sure if I’m liking it so far, however. I’ve played the first two chapters, and haven’t really enjoyed the gameplay.

I need to work on Grim Fandango and Full Throttle on PS4, and then there’s my ever growing backlog that includes: Horizon Zero Dawn, Breath of the Wild (Wii U), Tales of Berseria, Uncharted 4, Yakuza 0 and Until Dawn among many more.

 

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In a great year for shooters, Infinite Warfare disappoints.

It’s been one of the most exciting years for fans of first person shooters in the history of video games. So many great AAA shooters have released this year, and for the most part they’ve all been hits. We’ve had Overwatch, DOOM, Gears of War 4, Battlefield 1, Titanfall 2 and now Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. The last 30 days alone have seen the rapid fire releases of Gears (Oct 11), Battlefield (Oct 21), Titanfall (Oct 28) and Call of Duty (Nov 4).

It’s been an unbelievably good year for those who enjoy first person shooters. There’s an incredible amount of variety in the games released this year, and there’s something for everyone.

I’ve been trying to check out all of the shooters that have released recently, however I think the ones that I’ll continue to play over the next year will certainly be Overwatch, Battlefield and Titanfall. That said, last night I rented Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare from Redbox and played for a few hours and wanted to share my experience so far.

Infinite Warfare screenshot xbox

One of the first things I noticed once I started the campaign was that Infinite Warfare is certainly unlike any Call of Duty that came before it. The view of Jupiter above was not something I expected to see less than five minutes into a Call of Duty game, but it was certainly refreshing.

I had a good time picking up a variety of guns during the first few missions, and found the variety of enemies to be refreshing as well. Most of the guys are just random soldiers, but it’s interesting to see robots thrown into the mix, and even some larger bots that take a little more effort to bring down. I also enjoyed the hacking mechanic a great deal once it was introduced. Basically you can take control of an enemy robot while you’re tucked away safely in cover, and use it to take out as many bad guys as you can and even initiate a self destruct mechanism (it’s fun to run into a group of enemies and explode D.Va style) before you lose the signal during the hack.

Infinite Warfare space combat

The space combat featured in Infinite Warfare was certainly interesting. The first time you ascend from a planet and transition into space I got an eerie No Man’s Sky vibe, but you certainly have less control over your spaceship. You’re sort of guided along a set path as you ascend, and in all reality you don’t have that much control, which isn’t necessarily a complaint, it just felt weird. The same goes for landing sequences. I could basically land my ship with hardly any input, as the game guides you along a highlighted path onto the carrier. Besides all that, the space combat was a nice diversion, but I felt that it dragged on a little longer than I would’ve liked.

Infinite Warfare hair

Some of the cutscenes look really nice in Infinite Warfare, and one of the things that stood out was the quality of the character’s hair. It looks quite realistic, especially as you can see individual strands, but unfortunately once the cutscene ends it transitions back to being more of a blob than realistic looking hair. Someday video games will give us good looking hair! Again, this isn’t a complaint and it’s something I wouldn’t have even noticed had I not been blown away by just how good it looked during the cutscene above and had it contrasted with the gameplay sequence to follow.

Overall I’ve mostly enjoyed the campaign (I have a handful of missions left), but I did have some difficulty with it at times which made it more frustrating than it should be. After breezing through much of the campaigns of Battlefield 1 and Titanfall 2, I’ve died more than I have in both games combined during Infinite Warfare. During some sections I died as many as six times before reaching a checkpoint and getting past a particularly hairy section. I tried turning the difficulty down, but even that didn’t help and it became annoying to replay the same section over and over again just to avoid dying by a grenade or exploding car I didn’t happen to see quick enough.

How does the campaign compare to Battlefield 1 and Titanfall 2? I don’t think it’s on the same level. Call of Duty campaigns have gotten more and more stale over the years, while its competitors have really stepped up their game. Titanfall 2 features easily the most enjoyable FPS campaign since Halo: Reach. The writing is excellent (mostly the dialogue of BT), the platforming in-between shooting sections has a Portal level of polish and the shooting feels great, whether on foot or in a titan. Infinite Warfare definitely tries to do things a bit differently, and at times it felt like I was playing more of a sci-fi shooter, but during its most routine moments it feels like everything we’ve done again and again during Call of Duty campaigns. I feel no drive to finish off the last four missions, and if I do it’ll only be for the achievements, not because I’m necessarily enjoying the game.

The multiplayer doesn’t fare much better. I haven’t enjoyed Call of Duty multiplayer since Black Ops II (MW3 is still my favorite) and Infinite Warfare feels like more of the same. It’s eerily similar to Black Ops III, and most of the time it’s just felt like a skin and some new maps over that gameplay. It just hasn’t been enjoyable for me at all. I just want to go back and play some more Battlefield or Titanfall. In fact, if you tend to enjoy the futuristic combat of Black Ops III but haven’t checked out Titanfall, I would highly recommend Titanfall 2 over Infinite Warfare. Even Jeff Gerstmann, a long time Call of Duty enthusiast over at Giant Bomb, has seemed to have drifted away from Call of Duty. Instead, he has been overly enthusiastic about Titanfall 2, which he scored a perfect 5 in his review.

What made the Infinite Warfare experience even worse for me yesterday, was its community. I experienced behavior that I haven’t experienced since the Xbox 360 days during my time with the game yesterday. During one of my first matches I happened to die a lot (I didn’t play a lot of Black Ops III or Advanced Warfare and needed to get used to it), and mid match I got an all caps message instructing me to “STOP DYING!!!!!!111!!”. I took the time to respond that I certainly wasn’t dying on purpose, to which I received a series of insults and a note saying they recorded my gameplay and will be reporting me for dying too much. Good to know.

But it didn’t stop there. It seems like so much of the Call of Duty community is so concerned about their K/D and winning that they’ll get violently angry at anyone who isn’t playing to their standards. I never experience this with Battlefield or Titanfall. Maybe it’s just the day one players who are the most hardcore, but I played Battlefield 1 and Titanfall 2 a lot on day one and everyone I encountered was all about having fun.

Overall, I don’t think I can recommend Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare to anyone but the most hardcore of Call of Duty fans. To even those fans I would recommend checking out Titanfall 2 if you haven’t. It’ll provide a similar experience with a much better and more refreshing execution, and I think the games industry would benefit from the increased success of the other shooters on the market.

Having a blast with Advanced Warfare on Xbox One

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I wasn’t initially planning on picking up Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, but after seeing the early reviews and looking at some gameplay I decided by the end of the day yesterday to buy it. That turned out to be a wise choice. I’ve been having more fun with Advanced Warfare than I have with any shooter in quite awhile. The multiplayer is much more fast paced than recent Call of Duty games and it’s quite refreshing. If you take the best parts of Titanfall and the best of Call of Duty you end up with a game that feels nearly perfect, and that’s Advanced Warfare.

I want to say more, but don’t have the time just yet. I can say I played the first two campaign missions and enjoyed them much more than Ghosts and Black Ops II’s missions. I’ve played a handful of multiplayer matches and have had an absolute blast. Everything feels just right and the pace of matches is much improved over Ghosts.

I can’t wait to keep playing as the week goes on!

Not quite sure what happened there.

Black Ops II ‘Nuketown 2025’ NOT a pre-order exclusive?

So the Nuketown 2025 map for Black Ops II has been advertised for months as a ‘pre-order exclusive’ map, available only to players who pre-ordered Black Ops II. And yet today I walked into the Bx and purchased Black Ops II and still received the Nuketown 2025 map. Could it be that not enough people pre-ordered the game so they just stuck all the pre-order copies on the shelves? I don’t know. Anyway I got the ‘exclusive’ bonus days after the game was released. No money down, no pre-order, nothing. Just walked into the store and I was rewarded with the map. Win?